There’s no denying that there has been a worldwide increase in the price of groceries. However, that doesn’t mean we must sacrifice our health when budgeting our grocery dollars. Here are some budget-friendly ways to continue eating healthy while trimming your grocery store bill.
Stephanie Nelson, RD, writing for MyFitnessPal, shared some great tips for keeping your grocery tab low while not necessarily sacrificing your waistline that I wanted to highlight.
In the United States, we waste approximately 30-40% of our food supply. So if the average household spends nearly $5,000 a year on groceries, roughly $2,000 is thrown away. Ouch.
To alleviate this, keep to a plan or list when you go to the grocery store. For example, if you shop weekly, try your best to know what meals and snacks you’ll eat for the week ahead and the ingredients you’ll need to make them. Try your best not to stray, ensuring that vegetables, fruits, proteins, and whole grains stay toward the top, and then you can fill out the rest with your nice-to-have items.
One of our family’s favorite ways to not only meal plan but to save recipes and maintain lists is with the Paprika Recipe Manager, which is available on most platforms. Note that each version is purchased separately, but it is worth it from the organization standpoint.
Meal Prep Is a Must
If you can batch prep your meals for the week, even better. This will help ensure that food doesn’t sit in the fridge or pantry unprepared (then get thrown out). Think – food not wasted = money not wasted.
If you’re a smoothie fan, place ingredients in a freezer-safe container, so they are ready to blend, like bananas and berries. Also, sandwiches, wraps, and burritos can be frozen and thawed for easy eating. You can also cook a whole grain at the beginning of the week and add it to your soups, salads, or grain bowls to save time.
Coupons and Reward Programs
It seems like anywhere you shop now, every location has some form of the loyalty program. In exchange for keeping you as a customer, stores often incentivize you to come back with discounts and savings for things you already shop for.
One timeless way to look for savings is through your grocery store’s weekly flyer. Often in-season produce and holiday-themed foods (think grillable foods during July 4) will be on sale to ensure excess inventory gets purchased.
Also, since most things are digital now, many apps can help you earn cashback and savings at the grocery store.
Here are some of my favorites:
Flipp – This is a great app that can scour the ads and coupons for some of the stores in your area by ZIP code.
Rakuten – One of the most popular ways of getting cashback and deals online.
CashBack Monitor – This site does a great job compiling where you can get the best bang for your buck when shopping online. I often like to check here if looking to earn points, airline miles, etc.
Ibotta – With this site, you can link your grocery store loyalty accounts to Ibotta and gain additional savings. One favorite thing I like to do with them is buying gift cards to places we might be getting takeout from, as you can get cash back, and those earnings can be applied to future gift card purchases.
The Cash App – The Cash App, with its card, can allow you to add boosts to some of your favorite places. One of our favorites is their 5% boost for saving at Taco Bell. If you give the link a try, you can get $5!
Often store brand items will have the same ingredients and nutritional value as their name brand counterparts. The difference, though, is store brand can bring more savings to the checkout line. Depending on the price, you might be able to buy twice what you could have with a name brand.
No Need To Stress On Organic
Organic products can undoubtedly cost more, so if budget is a priority, focus on your diet holistically, Stephanie advises. As long as you’re getting enough fruits, vegetables, and protein each day, even with conventionally-grown produce and meats, it’s better than nothing.
Just make sure to wash and scrub your produce under running water to help lessen any pesticide residue that might be around, and maybe cut the outer leaves of leafy vegetables to help cut down on any pesky contaminants.
The Freezer Aisle May Be The Way To Go
As odd as it might sound, frozen fruits and vegetables usually come with a lower price tag for products that might be out of season. Frozen produce is often picked and frozen at peak ripeness to hang onto its nutritional benefits for longer. Plus, frozen fruit has the advantage of potentially making your smoothie taste better.
Tune In To Tuna For Essential Omega-3s
Omega-3s can come with some tremendous benefits. Getting enough of the fatty acid helps keep your arteries clear, lower blood pressure, and reduce dementia risk.
Stephanie writes the best way to get this is from fish, and canned tuna can be a great budget-friendly way to get this into your diet. As a bonus, it has a long shelf life.
Look For Cost-Efficient Proteins
Meat and poultry are usually relatively inexpensive ways to get protein into your diet. With increasing costs, though, this may no longer be the case.
Perhaps add some bean and lentil dishes into your cooking repertoire to ensure protein still finds its way into your diet. Peanut butter, yogurt, and milk can also be great for any smoothie.
Spice Up The Variety In Your Dishes With Flavor Staples
As you scour Pinterest for new recipe ideas, you may find many of these utilize unique spices and ingredients. However, you can often get away with tried and true seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika for chicken and fish dishes. Chili powder and paprika can be great for chilies and stews. Lemons and limes are often inexpensive and can help finish off salads, meats, poultry, fish, and more.
Give Your Leftovers Some Love
Despite being the most careful meal planner in the world, you may often find yourself with some leftovers. Don’t discard these, though! Often these can be reused in more meals!
Vegetable ends and skins, along with bones from meat, can be frozen and even boiled down into a broth. Extra grains, proteins, or vegetables on your plate at the end of a meal can be put into a grain bowl, stir fry, or even a sandwich.
Hopefully, all of the above has been helpful, with some great reminders that you don’t have to sacrifice your diet while looking to save at the grocery store.
That said, I’m always a proponent that we can all learn from one another, despite what “experts” may say, so if you have some helpful budget-friendly tips on how you’ve been able to save at the grocery store, feel free to leave a comment below!